Refuel the car at a gas station fuel pump

UK cuts to fuel duty are less than most of Europe, RAC finds

Image credit: Dreamstime

The UK comes near the bottom of European countries that have acted to lower the cost of high fuel prices for domestic drivers, RAC data shows.

Prices at the pump have rocketed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but UK drivers are currently paying as much as 20p more per litre of petrol than drivers in France.

Out of 13 EU countries that have cut petrol taxes, only Luxembourg has done less than the UK government, with a duty cut in April worth the equivalent of 4.52p compared to the 5p duty cut announced at the UK Budget in March. It’s a similar picture for diesel, with only Croatia doing less for its drivers than the UK, with a cut worth 4.5p.

Germany, which sits at the top of the table, has taken the equivalent of 25p a litre in tax off per litre of petrol on 1 June, with Italy close behind with a 21p cut and Portugal with a 16p cut.

As an alternative to cutting fuel duty, governments of other countries in the EU have introduced fuel discounts at forecourt tills with Spain taking off about 17p and France 18 about 15p. Furthermore, some fuel retailers including TotalEnergies in France and BP Spain have discounts running of up to 40 cents per litre (about 33p).

Of the remaining 15 EU states that haven’t taken steps to lower pump prices since March, all but six already charge less fuel duty than the UK even after the UK cut fuel duty by 5p in March’s Spring Statement, and almost all are cheaper at the pumps.

Although UK pump prices have finally started to fall in recent days, the average price of a litre of both petrol and diesel is well above the current EU averages of 159p and 161p respectively.

The UK is currently the joint-second most expensive country when it comes to the average cost of a litre of petrol (186p) – behind only Finland (190p) with Denmark also at 186p – and the second most expensive for diesel at 195p per litre, with only Sweden charging more (201p).

The only apparent silver lining is that drivers heading abroad with their own cars this summer will benefit from lower pump prices on the other side of the Channel.

The cost of filling a 55-litre family car with petrol in France, for instance, is around £12 cheaper than it is in the UK, and for diesel is £17 cheaper.

“This analysis lays bare an uncomfortable truth for the UK government – that compared to other European countries, it’s pretty much done the least to support drivers through the current period of record high fuel prices,” RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said.

“The result is the UK being one of the most expensive places to fill up and putting it above other countries that have historically charged more for fuel than UK retailers do, including France and the Netherlands.

“The cost-of-living crisis shows no signs of coming to an end anytime soon and it’s frustrating that repeated calls to the UK government for more support are falling on deaf ears.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles